Duplicate genes are essential and ongoing sources of genetic material that evolution can act on, yet new duplicates are under constant risk of being inactivated by mutations and subsequently lost. We show that a common heritable epigenetic modifier, DNA methylation, plays an important role in duplicate gene evolution. DNA methylation clearly distinguishes young and old duplicates, and the differences in DNA methylation of duplicate genes are associated with functional differences in expression. Remarkably, for a majority of duplicate gene pairs, a specific duplicate partner is consistently hypo- or hypermethylated across highly divergent tissues. Our results indicate that epigenetic modifications are intimately involved in the regulation and maintenance of duplicate genes.
From the Abstract … Remarkably, many duplicate gene pairs exhibit consistent division of DNA methylation across multiple, divergent tissues: For the majority (73%) of duplicate gene pairs, one partner is always hypermethylated compared with the other. …
Should we tell that guy who is standing athwart epigenetics and yelling “Stop!”?
See also: Richard Dawkins responds to “Die, Selfish Gene, Die”: Mere adversarial journalism
Epigenetics: Inheritance of acquired traits gradually gaining acceptance
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